Category Archives: Food

Ever thought of raising your own meat on a city block?

Image: A group of chicks in a metal cage with a pink wall background. One chick is on a natural tree branch.

I was vegetarian for 20 years. I’ve never had anything against people eating meat, though I’ve always thought it would be most ethical to raise the animals yourself, and probably kill them too. When I started to eat meat again for health reasons, I decided to put my money where my mouth is, and raise and kill my own meat. I felt that way I would truly understand and appreciate the animal I was eating.

There are other reasons why I believe it’s good to raise our own meat. The meat industry can be pretty cruel. I only eat meat from local farms where I’m pretty satisfied that they raise their animals well and kill them humanely. But even so, surely I could give them a better life in a suburban backyard than when they are raised on a commercial scale. After all, our home-produced eggs were so much better than the most expensive organic free range eggs we could buy. Like the eggs, I expected the meat to be more nutritious. Also I am concerned about the amount of wastage that occurs commercially. Despite repeated requests, I’ve never been able to obtain chicken heads or feet for soup. What happens to them all? Are they chucked out? We are in the habit of eating the muscle meat but not the organs (though they are very good for us), and in our society it’s rare to make stock from bones these days. By processing my own meat I could ensure minimal waste.

I also want to really understand how much food I could produce in my backyard. I already produced 80% of my family’s fruit and vegies. Could I produce a good portion of our meat onsite too? I wanted to find out.

I’ve blogged about my journey raising chicken.

The benefits of a lectin-free diet

Have you ever heard of a lectin-free diet? I hadn’t and neither had most of my friends. But I have been strangely impressed by it – especially how it has dramatically reduced my arthritis pain.

Several of my friends have been intrigued and decided to try it out for themselves, and all those who have done so have been enthusiastic, reporting more regularity on the toilet, a sharper, clearer mind, improved mood, more energy and weight loss.

It seems the diet may actually assist with treatment and prevention of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and digestive issues too, and even assist with starving cancer tumours.

I wrote an article about it. If you are interested to read more or know someone who suffers from any of the above conditions who might benefit, please share this with them.

Natural treatment for ankylosing spondylitis and inflammatory arthritis

When I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS), and told by doctors it is an auto-immune disease, a form of inflammatory arthritis, for which the cause is unknown, and treatment consists of ‘heavy drugs’, I was devastated.  Google searches didn’t yield up more information, and it took me a long time to uncover effective, natural ways of treating the disease. In the process, I also discovered that the causes are in fact known to some researchers. This article covers the best of what I know about AS and how to manage it.

(By the way, please read all the way to the end before you leave a comment.)

Natural Treatment with Diet

The most effective treatment I have found for AS is to follow a lectin-free diet. This has dramatically reduced my AS pain and is currently my preferred way of treating it.

Natural Treatment with Vinegar

After my first post on my old blog about AS, one of my readers, John, left a comment telling me that drinking apple cider vinegar removed all his symptoms of AS. This was life-changing for me at the time. Vinegar is the second-best treatment I have found, and I used this method for several years. However, I find the lectin-free diet mentioned above to be more effective so I prefer that. But vinegar is a much easier treatment than a complete diet overhaul. Be aware that taking a significant amount of vinegar may have long-term consequences for your health. I have not been able to find any information about this though.

It seems vinegar was suggested by Margaret Hills, back in the 1950s, in her book about inflammatory arthritis. From her nursing training, she understood that inflammation is a build up of acid. It’s the acid that gradually damages our joints if we don’t get rid of the inflammation. She also knew that when you consume vinegar, it becomes alkaline in the body. So her theory was that the alkaline vinegar would neutralise the acidic inflammation. Lots of people with all kinds of inflammatory arthritis have found relief this way, thanks to her book on the topic.

Instructions for how to take apple cider vinegar:

Use live, raw vinegar, with the cultures in it. If you see little strings or sediment, that’s a good sign. Any kind of vinegar is fine, though apple cider vinegar apparently offers many other health benefits. I personally make my own vinegar by fermenting kombucha for longer and prefer to drink that. It’s full of probiotic cultures and kombucha is also reputed to have a wonderful detox effect.

Put 1-2 tablespoons of vinegar in a glass and top up with water. Never drink vinegar straight or you’ll burn your insides. Drink, and follow immediately with plain water to rinse out your mouth. Leaving vinegar on your teeth 2-4 times a day can erode the enamel on your teeth, so always wash it off. You can also drink it through a straw, taking care not to get vinegar on your teeth. This a bit intense at the back of your throat.

When you first start taking vinegar, it will feel very sour, so put less vinegar in your glass, and gradually work up to larger amounts.  My kombucha vinegar is much milder than the apple cider vinegar from the shop so I put more in the glass.  I aim to have it as sour as I can stand.

Margaret Hills suggests adding honey, and using warm water so the honey will dissolve, to make it easier and pleasanter to drink. I prefer to use stevia drops instead, as they have no calories.

I’ve found I do best if I have 4 glasses of vinegar-water a day. I have a glass on rising, another mid-morning, one mid-afternoon, and a final glass before or after dinner. These days I put it all in a one litre drink bottle along with 5 drops of stevia and a teaspoon of Vitamin C. The Vitamin C helps me fight off colds – it’s not for the AS. But I’ve noticed that having it in my drink bottle is more effective than taking a single dose of Vitamin C morning or night. I have noticed with the vinegar water that if I drink the entire litre, say, in the morning, it works just as effectively as if I spread it evenly over the day. But I find this makes me feel a little nauseous on an empty stomach so it’s best for me to sip it slowly after food.

My favourite way to drink it is with this recipe I copied from a Braggs drink:

In a one-litre bottle place 4 tbsp apple cider vinegar, ginger infusion (I grate ginger and steep it in boiling water then strain – I keep a bottle of this in the fridge ready to go), 40 drops of stevia, and then top it up with water. This is delicious like a soft drink – but a bit intense for every day. I use only 5 drops of stevia most days.

Apple cider vinegar tablets:

I later discovered that I could buy buy apple cider vinegar in tablet form. For a period, I took 4 capsules per day of Nature’s Way apple cider vinegar tablets at 1200mg strength. I didn’t find it as effective as drinking the vinegar as a liquid but it was a relief to have a break from drinking it at times, and is handy when travelling.

How long does it take to work and who will it help?

It took about 5 days before I started to feel better. After that, for the next 10 days, every day was a little better. Apparently it takes a whole month to get the maximum benefit of this remedy.

This remedy helps all kinds of inflammatory arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis and reactive arthritis. It should remove inflammation, so pain associated with inflammation should be reduced or disappear. It won’t help pain that is caused by damage to your joints that has already occurred though.

Natural Treatment with Diet

Before I discovered the vinegar treatment, I managed my AS by eating a starch-free, lactose-free diet.  After starting vinegar, I found my symptoms were better than they were when I followed the diet, but some readers of my blog have reported that they do better by following both the diet and the vinegar treatment, or they prefer the diet than the vinegar. However, I have now discovered that a lectin-free diet is even more effective for me than this one, and significantly more satisfying, so I would suggest you try that before attempting the starch-free diet described here.

A starch-free diet is a restrictive, difficult regimen to follow, but the pain and degenerative problems caused by AS can be a very good motivator if the diet works.  Unfortunately starch-free diets are pretty-much unheard of in our society, so it can be challenging to work out exactly what you can eat and what you can’t. I found that eating only the tiniest amount of starch (a single breadcrumb, or a pea) was enough to set off my symptoms dramatically, so it took some time of following a very strict diet, and gradually adding in one food at a time, to discover what foods I could eat and what I couldn’t.

Everyone’s body responds differently to the diet, so if you are trying to make this work and struggling with it, I would suggest starting with a very limited diet of foods known to be starch free, and after the pain has reduced, add in one new food at a time, observing your pain levels the day after adding in the new food. Some people tolerate lactose fine, others need to eliminate that from their diet as well. I will list here what I ate on this diet as I found this sort of info on others’ blogs incredibly helpful in designing my diet.

I could eat:

Rice: glutinous rice – both black and white. Glutinous rice has a different-shaped starch molecule than regular starch, and in me it didn’t trigger my symptoms.

Vegetables: broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, leek, brown onion, lettuce, rocket, celery, spinach, silverbeet, red and yellow capsicum, carrot, pumpkin, fennel, zucchini, avocado.

Fruits: tomatoes, berries, papaya, grapes, apples, pears, pineapple, melons, passionfruit, persimmon, mango, coconut, citrus fruits (juiced and well peeled are fine but avoid the white pith).

All unprocessed meat
Seafood (unprocessed only)
Blanched almonds
Pine nuts
Sesame seeds

Dry curd cottage cheese
Milk, cream and yoghurt to which I had added 10 drops of Lacteeze per litre, and left to sit in the fridge for 2 days. Lacteeze is a product consisting of lactase enzymes, which over the course of two days, consume the lactose in the milk and convert it to glucose. The resulting milk is pleasantly sweeter as a result. Be sure to purchase Lacteeze drops, not a tablet or powdered form, which may contain starch.

Sea salt
All herbs
Garlic infused oil (remove garlic before serving)
Spice infused oil (remove spices before serving)
Fish sauce,
soy sauce,
Honey (a little sugar is ok)

Fats: olive oil, coconut oil, butter, lard, animal fat.

I couldn’t eat:

Grains (wheat, non-glutinous (normal) rice, spelt, corn, etc)

Starchy vegetables & fruit:
sweet potato

Processed meat such as sausages or salami unless I could guarantee it was made without starchy ingredients

Nuts or seeds other than blanched almonds

Dairy products with lactose:
Soft cheeses
White cheese 

Thickened sauces such as oyster sauce or ketjap manis, or processed curry pastes


A typical day of meals:

On rising: 1 tsp cod liver oil in dissolved in freshly squeezed orange juice. (Fish oil apparently helps arthritis.)

Breakfast: Lactose free yoghurt, milk and cream (made the same way as yoghurt), muesli made from finely chopped activated blanched almonds, dried coconut, black sesame seeds, and dark coloured fruit such as berries, peaches, apricots, papaya.

Mid morning: Vegetable juice made with kale and beet leaves from my garden, beetroot and apple, or a cup of warm bone broth (stock) with fish sauce and vinegar added.

Lunch: big plate of vegies or salad, with some eggs, meat or fish, topped with at least a tablespoon of butter.  Sometimes soup. Sometimes black glutinous rice with eggs and greens.

Mid afternoon: Activated blanched almonds and dried fruit.  (If I didn’t eat almonds twice a day I crave carbohydrates.  And I can’t get through the afternoon without a snack.)

Dinner: Another big plate of vegies, often a roast or a stew, with meat or fish, and plenty of butter.

Dessert: I often craved something in the evenings, and when the cravings were high, I’d eat either a bowl of fruit with lactose-free cream, or else I have a homemade icypole made with egg yolk, lactose-free cream or dry curd cottage cheese, strawberries and honey.

Drinks: through the day I drank two glasses of lactose-free milk, 1-2 glasses rejuvelac, 2 or more glasses beetroot kvass, and sometimes I had a herbal tea such as roibos or the korean corn tea.

About glutinous rice

I read on an AS blog that glutinous rice is made up of a different form of starchy molecule – amylopectin, while most starchy products are made up of amylose.  Apparently klebsiella bacteria can consume amylose but not amylopectin!  Glutinous rice is made up of amylopectin, not amylose, so theoretically it should be safe for those of us with AS to eat.  My first attempts at this failed – I bought a black rice which I thought was glutinous rice, but now I think was actually not glutinous.  At first it was fine but after a while my klebsiella evolved and I began to get symptoms from it. I then sourced a proper glutinous rice and had no symptoms from eating that over a longer term.

Diet issues

While once I had adjusted to the diet, I was okay on it for a year, but after that I think some stores of nutrition became depleted, because I found it increasingly difficult to follow, especially living without wheat.  I  noticed that when I didn’t eat wheat for a long time, I began to get desperate cravings.  It felt like having low blood sugar.  If I ignored it, my symptoms become progressively worse, so that I became extremely ill.  If I broke my diet and eat wheat, I felt better, so much better, and all my cravings would go away again, for about ten days. When I tried to quit dairy I found the same experience. Some people seem to do fine on this diet and don’t report the problems I felt, and I never did get to the bottom of how to handle it.

About Ankylosing Spondylitis And Its Causes

AS is a form of inflammatory arthritis, where your joints become inflamed. When you have the fluid of inflammation sitting around your joints for long enough, eventually that liquid erodes the cartilage that protects your joints.  Once the cartilage is eroded, the damage is irreversible, and also very painful.  So it’s important to treat the AS in some way – leaving it untreated will eventually lead to permanent joint damage and pain.

When Google searches for natural treatment for AS didn’t yield up anything for me, my family urged me to do some proper medical research.  My sister showed me how to search online medical journals, to see what the very latest research was for AS.  I also noticed that AS was often grouped with other auto-immune diseases such as MS, and broadened my search to see what was helping auto-immune diseases in general.  I started making a habit of trawling the medical journals at night once my son was in bed. If you’d like to read more about how to DIY your own medical research, I’ve written about that here.

It took me two months, but eventually I found IT – the answer. Here’s the real deal on AS.  There is a rheumatologist in the UK, a Dr Alan Ebringer, who has been researching AS for 35 years, and has published nearly sixty research papers.  I have read several of his papers and can see how he slowly built up a picture that explained AS and how to treat it through diet.

Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) is a form of reactive arthritis that follows an infection by the bacteria klebsiella pnuemonae.  The disease only occurs in people who have the HLA-B27 gene (which I do).  Although 5% of AS patients do not have the gene – Ebringer thinks that the disease in these patients is actually a different entity.  Klebsiella pnuemonae is remarkably similar in molecular make up to the HLA-B27 gene.  Hence, when the body makes antibodies to klebsiella, the antibodies also attack the HLA-B27 gene, causing a range of physical problems, including joint inflammation.

Klebsiella is in the digestive tracts of 40% of people, and tends to be an opportunistic bacteria that creates disease in people whose immunity is lowered.  I now believe that I came down with a klebsiella infection in May 2008, at a time when my immune system was in very low state, just before I changed my diet to traditional foods.  I had a very sudden onset of high fever, chills and terrible cough, which is consistent with the symptoms of community-caught klebsiella infection.   I was so ill that I still clearly remember the day that I came down with it.  It took me three months to recover, and despite visiting the doctor and being suspected as having whooping cough, the tests came back negative for this.  I now know that commercial labs don’t have a test for klebsiella, which explains why I wasn’t diagnosed at the time.  Several months later I started experiencing symptoms of AS.

If klebsiella could be eradicated from my digestive tract long term, it’s likely that my immune system would register the invader as gone, and would stop attacking the B27 genes.  However, killing them with antibiotics doesn’t help, because the bacteria is so prevalent in our community that they tend to return.  Sulphasalazine is a drug with (often) unpleasant side effects that is commonly used to treat AS.  It kills klebsiella, which is now thought to be the reason for its (somewhat) effectiveness.  However, when sulphasalazine is discontinued, symptoms tend to return within some weeks or months, likely because the klebsiella have recolonised the digestive tract.  Klebsiella feeds on starch, so removing their food source in my digestive  tract can starve/subdue them, resulting in a lowered immune reaction.  When we eat starch, some of it tends to remain undigested in the digestive tract, creating in an abundant food source for the klebsiella.  Clinical experience has shown that low starch diets help all patients with AS.  Lactose is a secondary food source for klebsiella so elimination of lactose is also essential for some people.

In clinical practise, all 600 of his patients have shown high levels of klebsiella, and those who have managed to adhere to a low starch diet (reduced intake of flour and potatoes) have shown a significant improvement in symptoms, although damage done by the disease cannot be undone.

Crohn’s disease is also associated with AS.  Patients with Crohn’s also have antibodies to the klebsiella bacterium.  It is thought that Crohn’s disease and symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) are part of the AS spectrum.  Low starch diets also help people with Crohn’s disease.

One of Ebringer’s patients, Carol Sinclair, who has both AS and IBS, has written a book, The IBS Low Starch Diet, which reveals how to manage this diet.  She suggests eradicating all grains, cereals, lentils and pulses from the diet.  If symptoms remain or recur, then eliminate rice and potato products (including sweet potato).  Should symptoms remain or recur, then eliminate numerous other foods which include low levels of starch, including cooked vegetables and spices.  There is a simple test to determine the starch level of a food.  Buy iodine from a chemist, and place a drop on the food.  If it contains starch, the colour of the iodine will change.  It darkens from orange to shades ranging from inky blue to black.  Some fruits and vegetables that are picked unripe (such as many found in supermarkets) contain high levels of starch, but have no starch when picked at full ripeness.  Some vegetables develop starch in cooking but are starch-free in their raw state (actually the starch is present in the raw state but shielded by an “envelope” that goes through the digestive tract undamaged; cooking destroys the envelope and releases the starch).  The iodine test assists in determining which foods are safe to eat.

The goal of the diet is to find out which and how much starch needs to be eliminated to maintain a pain-free, symptom-free life.  Not everyone needs to eliminate all starch.  One AS sufferer reports that after a strict no starch diet for 5 months, eating only meat, fish, vegetables, salad and fruit, he has been able to reintroduce bread, but cannot eat pasta, potatoes or rice.  Carol herself has found that over time she has needed to eliminate more foods in order to keep her symptoms under control.

Following a low starch diet generally results in remission from AS and symptoms, but is not a “cure” for the disease, since once we have antibodies to klebsiella, they are always able to attack the B27 gene.  It’s a matter of encouraging the immune system to register that there is no threat from klebsiella at this time, to minimise antibody activity.

When I started eating a no-starch, low-lactose diet, and the difference was remarkable.  All sorts of weird pains and symptoms disappeared instantly (e.g. I’d twisted my ankle some time before, and had pain in my foot for months – this resolved itself immediately when I changed my diet).  At first the changes were very difficult, and I found it hard to feel satisfied after a meal.  Eventually I came to accept that without grains and starches to fill me up, I didn’t get that really “full” feeling after a meal, but my food DID give me the energy I need to carry me through to the next meal.

A bit more about AS

Thanks to a suggestion by someone who commented on my blog, I bought and read Micah Cranman’s book / DVD package.  I would recommend this resource to anyone with AS, though I wouldn’t go as far as to say that my AS is in remission as a result of his book.  My AS is not in remission at all, it is simply managed through drinking vinegar.  The diet is the same as the one I’ve already described here on my blog (for free) – starch free.  Micah does go into a bit more detail about a few ingredients which I was previously unable to find out whether they were starchy or not.  I found that helpful.

He also advises that a first step towards improving your AS is to take fish oil – he recommends krill oil.  I went out and bought some and started taking it, but had no improvement at all as a result.  But then I realised that I already take cod liver oil every morning, and probably this fulfills the same function.  So I’ve probably already got the benefit that can be had from fish oils.  But a note to those of you out there with AS, experiment with fish oils.

I’d love to hear from you.

Since I started telling people about AS, I’ve discovered almost everyone seems to know someone who suffers from the weird problems of joint pain, digestive troubles and skin troubles.  Or they know someone who has already been diagnosed with AS.  Since rheumatologists here in Australia don’t seem to know about Ebringer’s research, feel free to spread the word and let people with AS know about this article.  Ebringer has started a forum for people to share their progress and diet tips, and it’s a great place to start.  Carol Sinclair’s book is another good starting point.

If you have AS or know someone who does, please leave a comment to share your story. I sometimes get people asking me to give guidance or help them with their condition. Sorry, but I’m not a doctor and can’t do that. The purpose of my blog is to give you information so that you can use it to help yourself.

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Eating traditional foods for good health

Image: The artwork is of a girl with a high black ponytail and fringe. She wears a pink sleeveless dress with a red lace pattern and polka dots and black and white striped stockings. Her eyes are light blue with smoky eye shadow and a little blush on the cheeks. She has tiny lips tinted black. Some dark grungy texture surrounds her on a light blue background. Black, bold text in the middle of the image says, ‘Eating traditional foods for good health’ and text beneath this says, ‘’.

I believe you are what you eat. Every time I have changed my diet in a significant way, it has affected my physical health. My health journey has led me to try many different ways of eating, and each diet has made a difference to the way I feel every time.

After lots of experiments with raw food and vegetarian whole foods, I finally managed to pull my health together when a friend placed a copy of Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon in my hands. So many ailments I’d had for years fell away. I wish I could have stayed on that forever, but unfortunately a diagnosis of ankylosing spondylitis (AS) led me to manage it for three years with a starch and lactose free diet (difficult – and I didn’t thrive on this). Finally I found a way to manage my AS with vinegar instead of diet, but I was so fatigued from eating such a strict regimen, I needed to just eat whatever, for a while.

Slowly, though, I have veered back towards the traditional food guidelines offered up in Nourishing Traditions, and tthis really does seem to be the way of eating that makes my body the happiest. I don’t believe there is any one diet that is right for everyone, but if you are struggling with health issues or craving junk foods, this way of eating might sort it out.

Read my notes from the book here.

How to put up local food for winter

Image: A picture of shelves full of glass jars with metal lids, filled with preserved natural food such as cherries, apricots, olives and tomatoes.

One of the best ways we can reduce our resource footprint is to cut down on food miles. By learning how to preserve local food ready to eat in winter, we can end up with a pantry full of cheap food that is tasty beyond anything you can buy in the supermarket. You also avoid producing heaps of waste, another plus for our planet.

It’s actually not that hard nor time consuming. I can fill these shelves with a few hours a month from November to February, and then in March I spend a few days on the tomatoes. The hardest bit is doing it for the first time – collecting your jars and preserving equipment, and figuring out where and when to get the best local surplus food.

Although it may seem strange to think about winter when the weather is just warming up, now is the time to get organised to make sure you can eat local food all next year. Start with cherries and apricots in November and December, and finish with tomatoes in March or olives in June.

I’ve written about how to do this in more detail here.

Eating traditional foods for good health

A Summary of Sally Fallon’s Dietary Recommendations

as presented in Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig, compiled by Asphyxia

This document is a summary of the parts of the book which most grabbed my attention.  If you are interested in changing your health based on Fallon’s recommendations, it’s well worth having a read of the book itself.  I may have misinterpreted some of Fallon’s words – the following document should be used as a guide only, and it may contain errors. Happy reading – Asphyxia.

Download my Food Flower poster for a visual guide to eating well.

Much of Sally Fallon’s information regarding nutrition was sourced from Weston Price, a dentist who in the 1930s, travelled around the world to find communities yet untouched by modern civilisation.  He was fortunate to work at a time when modern civilisation had not yet inflitrated every corner of the world – today it is hard to find communities who live solely on traditional foods.  Price studied the health of the people he visited, noting that the health of their teeth seemed to be a particularly good indicator for their general health.  He studied their diets and other factors in their lifestyle, paying particular attention to diet once he noticed that in community after community, the health of the people seemed to deteriorate once modern foods became available.  He also took samples of their food home to his laboratory to study for vitamin, mineral and enzyme content, in an effort to understand whether the foods were superior in some way to modern foods.  Sally Fallon has compiled the information gathered by Weston Price about traditional diets, alongside recent research of food properties and their effects, into a book which provides information about how to choose and prepare foods that will nourish the body, as well as plenty of recipes for delicious and health-giving foods.

Weston Price and his findings

Price found that traditional communities embodied much wisdom in their diets, especially the Aborigines who are the oldest surviving people in the world, concluding that these people somehow had superior methods of trial and error than ours, when it came to finding methods of selecting and preparing foods to maximise health.  All the communities he visited, where they had access to foods from the sea, made ample use of this.  Communities that could not access the sea made use of meat and milk from animals.  By Price’s benchmarks for health testing, the communities who had no access to animal foods or sea foods, and forced to rely only on plant foods for nutrition, were slightly less healthy, those with animal products were healthier, and those who used sea foods liberally in their diets had the strongest constitutions.

Price also studied members of the traditional cultures who had been exposed to modern civilisation – in particular, foods of modern commerce such as white flour, refined sugar, and canned foods.  He found over and over again that those who ate modern diets developed caries on their teeth, and became susceptible to diseases such as tuberculosis.  The percentage of dental caries in traditional people who hadn’t been exposed to modern foods ranged from about 0.01% to 6%, while people who ate modern foods experienced between 25% to 50%.  He found that the number of caries increased proportionally with the amount of modern food included in the diet.  He also discovered inactive caries in some people who were eating solely traditional foods, and upon querying them, invariably found that these people had left their communities and entered the modern world for a year or two, developing the caries at that time.  The caries became inactive once they returned to their traditional foods.  Price also discovered that the first generation of children born after a community has adopted modern food have crowded teeth, narrowed dental arches, narrower nostrils (leading to a greater percentage of mouth breathers), and begin to require the services of a dentist.  Since modern food generally arrives in traditional communities long before the dentists do, the suffering from abscesses and decay often became extreme.

Although it is common knowledge that sugar causes tooth decay, Price came to believe that it is not the sugar sitting on the surface of the teeth that is the primary source of the decay, although this may play a role.  He understood that refined foods are devoid of the nutrients required to digest them, and thus to aid digestion, nutrients would be drawn from the body.  Once a certain level of deficiency occurs, the body draws nutrients from the teeth, making them susceptible to caries.  This also explains why the health of the teeth can be a good indicator of general health.  He also observed that our diets can impact the make up of our saliva, and came to believe that when our saliva is healthy it would protect the surface of our teeth.

After reading Price’s book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, in which he chronicles his studies as he traveled around the world, I came to the conclusion that if you want to have good teeth (and thus, good health!) you need to avoid all modern processed food, especially those containing refined flours, polished rice and refined sugar, and consume plenty of sea foods, animal foods from sources where the animals can free-range on organic pastures, and properly prepared plant foods.  If you want your children to have good teeth (and health), follow these recommendations before and during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and feed your child in this way at least until their adult teeth erupt, to ensure good facial bone and tooth development.

Choosing and preparing food

The major food groups Fallon discusses are not defined by the food pyramid, which was developed by the department of agriculture as a marketing device to ensure that their milk and meat products were a staple in everyday diets.  Rather, Fallon describes food in terms of fats, dairy, protein, grains, salt, plant foods, nuts, legumes, and beverages.  She makes the following recommendations about how to choose and appropriately prepare foods from each group, to make them nourishing.

Dairy Foods

Dairy products were usually consumed in cultured form by traditional groups.  Lactose and casein (milk sugar) are present in milk and are particularly difficult for our bodies to digest.  Fermenting or culturing milk breaks down lactose and predigests casein, making it easier for us to digest.  Milk that comes from cows that are allowed to graze on grass, and thus also consume the small insects in the grass, contains a rich supply of vitamins, minerals and cancer-fighting properties.  Most commercial milk comes from grain-fed cows, even organic milk, but biodynamic practices require that cows be allowed to graze.

While we have been taught that pasteurisation is beneficial, it destroys the helpful organisms that are present in raw milk which help to protect against pathogens.  Raw milk in time turns pleasantly sour, while pasteurised milk, lacking beneficial bacteria, will putrefy.  Pasteurisation also changes some of the amino acids in the milk, making the proteins less readily absorbed by our bodies, as well as reducing the availability of calcium, magnesium, potassium and other minerals in the milk.  It also destroys enzymes in the milk which help us absorb calcium and other minerals – this is why those who drink pasteurised milk may suffer from osteoporosis.  Thus modern pasteurised milk from grain-fed cows puts an enormous strain on our body’s digestive mechanism, preventing the absorption of vital nutrients, leading to allergies, fatigue and degenerative diseases.

Fermented milk is consumed daily by traditional cultures around the world – in the west we are familiar with yoghurt, in Russia a popular beverage is kefir (slightly effervescent fermented cow, goat or sheep milk), in Scandinavian cultures longfil is made, which keeps for months, in the Middle East milk is soured to produce laban, and in India dahi, a soured milk, is consumed with every meal.  Research has shown that regular consumption of cultured dairy products lowers cholesterol and protects against bone loss, as well as providing beneficial bacteria and lactic acid to the digestive tract which help us to maximise nutrient absorption from the food we consume.  These friendly creatures and their by-products keep pathogens at bay and guard against infectious illness.  This could explain why so many traditional societies insist on giving fermented milk products to the sick, the aged and nursing mothers as they are so valued for their health-promoting properties.

Fallon recommends that you obtain the best quality milk possible – preferably raw milk from cows that eat organic grass.  Milk should be consumed in its uncultured form only on occasion – most of the milk in your diet should be cultured.


An unfortunate outcome of our hurry-up, throwaway lifestyle has been a decline in the use of fish, chicken and meat stocks.  Our ancestors made use of every part of an animal by preparing stock or broth from the bony portions.  Meat and fish stocks are used almost universally in traditional cuisines – French, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, African, South American, Middle Eastern and Russian.  Properly prepared, stocks are extremely nutritious, containing the minerals of bone, cartilage, marrow and vegetables as electrolytes, a form that is easy to assimilate.  Acidic wine or vinegar added during cooking helps to draw the minerals, particularly calcium, magnesium and potassium, into the broth.

One of the many benefits of meat stock is the gelatin it contains.  Large amounts of research show the beneficial effects of gelatin taken with food, as it aids digestion.  Gelatin has been used successfully in the treatment of many intestinal disorders, including colitis and Crohn’s disease, many chronic disorders, anemia, diabetes, muscular dystrophy and even cancer.  Although it’s not a complete protein, it allows the body to more fully untilise the complete proteins that are taken in.  Fallon claims gelatin-rich broths are a must for those who cannot afford large amounts of meat in their diets.  Components of cartilage, which also go into the broth, have recently been used with remarkable results in the treatment of cancer and bone disorders.  Another component, collagen, is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other ailments.  Chicken soup, the traditional remedy for colds and flu, has actually been confirmed by modern research as helping to prevent and mitigate infectious diseases.  The food provider who uses gelatin-rich broth on a daily or frequent basis provides continuous protection from many health problems.  If your broth thickens when chilled, it contains liberal amounts of gelatin.

Fish stock, made from the carcasses and heads of fish, is especially rich in minerals including all-important iodine.  The fish head includes thyroid glands, which have traditionally been used by the Chinese to help people feel younger, give them more energy, and restore mental abilities.  According to some researchers, at least 40% of Americans suffer from a deficiency of the thyroid gland, with its accompianing symptoms of fatigue, weight gain, frequent colds and flu, inability to concentrate, depression and a host of more serious complications like heart disease and cancer.  We would do well to follow the Mediterranean and Asian tradition of including fish broth in the diet as often as possible.

The wonderful thing about stock is that as well as conferring many health benefits, they improve the flavour of our food dramatically.  Fallon recommends always cooking brown rice in stock, even if it is to be used for dessert or porridge.  Grains, soups, sauces, and stews can all be cooked with stock.

Fermented vegetables and fruits

In earlier times, people knew how to preserve vegetables and fruits for long periods without the use of freezers or canning machines.  This was done through a process of lacto-fermentation.  Lactic acid is a natural preservative that inhibits putrefying bacteria.  Lactobacilli bacteria are present on the surface of all living things, and with simple techniques they can be encouraged to proliferate, enhancing the digestibility of the food and increasing the vitamin level. These beneficial organisms produce numerous helpful enzymes as well as antibiotic and anticarcinogenic substances.  Their main by-product, lactic acid, not only keeps vegetables and fruits in a state of perfect preservation, but also promotes the growth of healthy flora throughout the intestine.  Fallon quotes from Schoneck’s book Des Crudites Toute L’Anee: “Professor Zabel observed that sick people always lack digestive juices, not only during the acute phase of their illness but also for a long time afterwards.  He never saw a cancer victim that had healthy intestinal flora.  Lacto-fermented foods are a valuable aid to the cancer patient.  They are rich in vitamins and minerals and contain the enzymes that cancer patients lack.  Of particular value are lacto-fermented beets, which have a very favourable effect on disturbed cellular function.  Many scientific studies have demonstrated that beets have a regenerating effect on the body.”

The practice of preserving vegetables and fruit by lacto-fermentation is almost universal.  In Europe sauerkraut is a popular condiment, prized for its delicious taste as well as its medicinal properties.  Cucumbers, beets and turnips are also traditionally lacto-fermented in Europe.  In Russia and Poland one finds pickled green tomatoes, peppers and lettuces.  In Japan, China and Korea preparations of cabbage, turnip, eggplant, cucumber, onion, squash and carrot are part of the traditional diet.  Korean kimchi, is a lacto-fermented cabbage with other vegetables, eaten on a daily basis, and no Japanese meal is complete without a portion of pickled vegetable.

It’s easy to make lacto-fermented condiments.  Fruits and vegetables are washed, chopped, mixed with salt, herbs or spices, then pounded to release juices.  They are then pressed into an air tight container.  Salt inhibits putrefying bacteria for several days until enough lactic acid is produced to preserve the vegetables for many months.  The amount of salt can be reduced if whey is added, serving as an innoculant and reducing the time needed for sufficient lactic acid to occur to preserve the food.

Since lacto-fermentation does not lend itself well to commercialisation, foods that have traditionally been lacto-fermented are now sold on supermarket shelves with vinegar to replicate the sour taste, and the jars have been pasteurised, killing all the inherent lactic-acid-producing bacteria, robbing consumers of their beneficial effect on digestion.  Scientists and doctors today are mystified by the proliferation of new viruses, such as AIDS, chronic fatigue, cancer, arthritis.  They are equally mystified by increases in intestinal parasites, and pathogenic yeasts, even among those whose sanitary practices are faultless.  Fallon suggests that by abandoning the ancient practice of lacto-fermentation and our by our insistence that everything be pasteurised, we have compromised the health of our intestinal flora and made ourselves vulnerable to legions of pathogenic micro-organisms.  If so, the cure will not be found in drugs or antibiotics, but in a restored partnership with the many varieties of lactobacilli, our symbionts of the microscopic world.

Grains, nuts and seeds

While nutritionists recommend eating whole grains rather than refined flours and polished rice, this advice as interpreted in modern cookbooks in the form of quick-rise breads, granolas and other immediate recipes, is misleading.  Our ancestors and virtually all pre-industrialised people soaked or fermented their grains before making them into porridge, breads, cakes and casseroles.  Grain recipes from around the world prove this point: in India rice and lentils are fermented for at least two days before they are prepared as idli and dosas; in Africa the natives soak ground corn overnight before adding it to soups and stews; and they ferment corn or millet for several day sto produce a sour porridge called ogi; a similar dish made from oats was traditional among the Welsh; in some Oriental and Latin American countries rice receives a long fermentation before it is prepared; Ethiopians make their distinctive injera bread by soaking a grain called teff for several days; Europeans made sourdough breads, pancakes and biscuits, and soaked their grains overnight or for several days in water or soured milk before they were cooked and served as porridge or gruel.  While we do not know how our ancestors knew to soak and ferment their grains, modern research has discovered the wisdom in these practices.  All grains contain phytic acid in the outer layer.  Untreated phytic acid can combine with calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and especially zinc in the intestinal tract and block their absorption.  This is why a diet high in unfermented whole grains puts enormous strain on the whole digestive mechanism, and may lead to serious mineral deficiencies and illnesses such as allergies, celiac disease, mental illness, chronic indigestion, bone loss and candida albicans overgrowth.  The modern misguided practice of consuming large amounts of unprocessed bran often improves colon transit time at first but may lead to irritable bowel syndrome, and, in the long term, many other adverse effects.  Soaking allows enzymes, lactobacilli and other helpful organisms to break down and neutralise phytic acid.  As little as seven hours of soaking in warm acidulated water will neutralise a large portion of phytic acid in grains.  The simple practice of soaking cracked or rolled cereal grains overnight will vastly improve their nutritional benefits.  Soaking seeds in warm water also neutralises enzyme inhibitors and encourages the production of numerous beneficial enzymes.  The action of these enzymes increases the amounts of many vitamins, especially B vitamins.

Grains containing gluten, such as oats, rye, barley and especially wheat, should not be consumed unless they have been soaked or fermented.  Buckwheat, rice and millet do not contain gluten and are more easily digested.  Whole rice and whole millet contain lower amounts of phytates than other grains so it’s not absolutely necessary to soak them, though they should be cooked for at least two hours in a high-mineral, gelatinous broth to neutralise the phytates they do contain, and provide additional minerals to compensate for those that are still bound.  Traditional recipes call for soaking corn or corn flour in lime water to release vitamin B3 which otherwise remains bound in the grain.  If corn plays a large part of your diet, it is important to do this to avoid the deficiency disease pellagra.

Fallon warns against granola, or puffed grains, a popular “health” food that is extremely indigestible.  These cereals are made by the extrusion process, in which little flakes and shapes are formed at high temperatures and pressures.  Extrusion processing destroys many valuable nutrients in grains, causes oils to become rancid, and renders certain proteins toxic.  This means puffed rice or corn crackers and boxed cereals should not be included in the diet.

Apparently in the past we ate most of our grains in partially germinated form, as grain standing in sheaves and stacks in open fields often began to sprout before it was brought into storage.  Modern farming techniques prevent grains from germinating before they reach our tables.  The process of germination produces vitamin C, and changes the composition of grain and seeds in numerous beneficial ways.  Sprouting increases vitamin B content, and carotene.  Sprouting also neutralises phytic acid, a substance present in the bran of all grains that inhibits absoption of calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and zinc, and neutralises enzyme inhibitors present in all seeds.  Complex sugars that cause intestinal gas are broken down during sprouting, and a portion of the starch in grain is transformed into sugar.  Sprouting inactivates aflatoxins, potent carcinogens found in grains.  Finally, numerous enzymes that help digestion are produced during the germination process.  Sprouted grains should be a regular feature of the diet, used in salads, sandwiches, vegetable dishes, as breakfast cereals and as additions to breads and baked goods.  However, Fallon warns against over-consumption of raw sprouted grains as raw sprouts contain irritating substances that keep animals from eating the tender shoots.  These substances are neutralised in cooking, so the sprouted grains should be lightly steamed or added to soups and casseroles.  Surprisingly, Fallon advises against eating alfalfa as tests have shown that these sprouts inhibit the immune system and can contribute to inflammatory arthritis and lupus.  Alfalfa seeds contain an amino acid which is toxic to humans and animals when consumed in quantity.


You may have heard that eating a lot of saturated fat and cholesterol can cause coronary heart disease.  This theory was proposed in the late 1950s by a researcher named Ancel Keys, and is called the lipid hypothesis.  Numerous subsequent researches have pointed out flaws in his data and conclusions, yet Keys received far more publicity than those presenting alternative views.  Vegetable oil and food processing industries, who stood to benefit from Keys’ idea, worked to promote further research that would support the lipid hypothesis.  Most people would be surprised to learn there is very little evidence to support the contention that a diet low in cholesterol and saturated fat actually reduces death from heart disease or increases one’s lifespan in any way.  While in the 1920s heart disease was extremely rare, today heart disease causes at least 40% of all US deaths – if it is truly caused by consumption of saturated fats, one would expect to find a corresponding increase in animal fat in the American diet, but the use of both traditional animal fat and butter has declined dramatically.  Fallon cites numerous studies which show communities where people on traditional diets with fats solely of animal origin have very little heart disease, while the same people, when eating a modern diet, that includes margarine and vegetable oils, have high levels of the disease.  The French have a diet loaded with saturated fat in the form of butter, eggs, cheese, cream, liver, meats and rich pates, and yet they have a lower rate of coronary heart disease than many other western countries  less than half that of the USA.  (The French do suffer degenerative diseases though – they eat large amounts of refined sugar and white flour.)

Fallon says that it’s just plain wrong that saturated fats cause heart disease and cancer, but it is true that some fats are bad for us.  She advises against eating polyunsaturated vegetable oils such as corn, safflower and canola.  Excess consumption of these oils have been shown to contribute to a large number of diseases including cancer, heart disease, immune system dysfunction, damage to the liver, reproductive organs and lungs, digestive disorders, depressed learning ability and weight gain.  These oils go rancid when cooked, creating free-radicals that attack cell membranes and red blood cells, causing damage within our bodies, leading to skin wrinkles, premature aging, tumours and autoimmune diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimers and cataracts.   Another problem with these oils is that they contain large amounts of omega-6 linoleic acid, with very little omega-3 linolenic acid.  Omegas 3 and 6 should be consumed in a one-to-one ratio with each other, and a diet that contains a lot of omega-6 without the corresponding omega-3 can lead to inflammation, high blood pressure, irritation of the digestive tract, depressed immune function, cancer and weight gain.  Modern agricultural and industrial practices have reduced the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in commercially available vegetables, eggs, fish and meat.  For example, organic eggs from hens allowed to feed on insects and green plants can contain omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in the beneficial ratio, while commercial supermarket eggs from hens fed mostly grain can contain as much as 19 times more omega-6 than omega-3.

Fallon states that rather than being a food to avoid, saturated fats actually enhance the immune system, reduces the likelihood of heart disease, and perform numerous other beneficial actions within our bodies.  Similarly cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease but a potent anti-oxidant weapon against free-radicals in the blood, and a substance that helps to repair and heal arterial damage.  However, cholesterol can be damaged by exposure to heat and oxygen, causing injury to arterial cells.  Damaged cholesterol is found in powdered milk, powdered eggs, meats and fats that have been heated to high temperatures in frying and other high-temperature processes.  Fallon says that the cause of heart disease is not animal fats and cholesterol but a number of factors in modern diets such as excess consumption of vegetable oils and hydrogenated fats, excess consumption of refined sugar and white flour, mineral deficiencies and vitamin deficiencies, and the disappearance of animal fats and tropical oils from the food supply.

Hydrogenation is a process that turns polyunsaturates, normally liquid at room temperature, into fats that are solid at room temperature such as margarine and shortening.  Manufacturers take cheap oils such as soy, corn, cottonseed or canola (already rancid from the heat used to extract them from the plant), mix them with tiny metal particles, and subject them to hydrogen gas in a high-pressure, high-temperature reactor.  Next soap-like emulsifiers and starch are squeezed into it to give it a better consistency.  The oil is then subjected to more high temperatures as it is steam cleaned.  Margarine’s natural colour, an unappetising grey, is removed by bleach.  Dyes and strong flavours are added to make it resembled butter.  Finally the mixture is packed in tubs and sold as a health food.  Trans-fats are even worse for you as they are toxic to our bodies, but our bodies don’t recognise the toxicity – instead our bodies incorporate trans fats into the cell membranes, where they wreak havoc with cell metabolism.  Consumption of hydrogenated and trans fats is associated with a host of serious diseases including paralysis of the immune system, cancer, diabetes, obesity, birth defects, difficulty with lactation and problems with bones and tendons.  Your best defense is to avoid them like the plague.

Fallon recommends eating butter, which is a valued component of many traditional diets, and a source of fat-soluble vitamins, essential fatty acids, lecithin, good cholesterol, trace minerals, beneficial arachidonic acid, and more.  Traditional groups especially valued the butter produced by cows feeding on rapidly growing grass, such as during spring-time.  Price analysed this deep yellow butter and found it exceptionally high in all fat-soluble vitamins, particularly vitamin A.  These vitamins cause us to utilise the vitamins and minerals we ingest, both from fat-soluble and water-soluble sources.   Not all the societies Price visited ate butter, but the groups he observed all went to great lengths to obtain foods high in fat-soluble vitamins – fish, shellfish, fish eggs, organ meats, blubber of sea animals and insects.  Without knowing the names of the vitamins contained in these foods, isolated traditional societies recognised their importance and liberaly ate animal products containing them.  They rightly believed such foods to be necessary for fertility and optimum development of children.  Butter should be added to vegetables, spread onto bread, and cream should be added to soups and sauces, to ensure proper assimilation of the minerals and water-soluble vitamins in vegetables, grains and meat.  Extra virgin olive oil is rich in antioxidants – it should be cloudy, indicating that it has not been filtered, and it should have a golden yellow colour, indicating that it is made from fully ripened olives.  This is the safest vegetable oil you can use but don’t overdo.  Tropical oils such as coconut oil and palm oil are more saturated than other vegetable oils, and can be kept at room temperature many months without becoming rancid.  They are suitable for baking and cooking.

Fallon concludes that our choice of fats and oil are of extreme importance, and most people, especially babies and children, benefit from more fat in their diet rather than less.  Avoid all processed foods containing hydrogenated fats and polyunsaturated oils.  Instead use traditional vegetable oils like extra virgin olive oil and small amounts of unrefined flax seed oil.  Use coconut oil for baking and animal fats (duck, goose, chicken fat) for occasional frying.  Eat egg yolks and other animal fats with the proteins to which they are attached.  And use as much good quality butter as you like, with the assurance that it is a wholesome essential food for you and your family.


Fallon cites numerous examples that show meat-eaters having healthier, longer lives than vegetarians, but cautions us to obtain organic meat from pasture-fed animals.  She also points to research that shows meats cooked at very high temperatures contain elevated amounts of carcinogens. Charcoal grilled meats and smoked foods contain chemicals that induce cancer in laboratory animals, yet our ancestors ate smoked meats and fish liberally.  There were probably factors in their diet that protected them against these carcinogens.  Modern humans are advised to eat smoked and barbequed meats sparingly. Investigation into the effects of pork consumption on blood chemistry has revealed serious changes for several hours after the pork was consumed – even when using organic pork.  In the laboratory, pork is one of the best mediums for feeding the growth of cancer cells.  The prohibitions against pork found in the Bible and the Koran may thus derive from something other than a concern for parasite contamination.  But it must be noted that many groups who experience longevity do consume pork meat and lard on a daily basis.  Meat should be eaten raw, rare or braised in water or stock.  Pathogens in raw meat can be killed by freezing it for 14 days, and the fat should be consumed with the meat.

Almost all traditional cultures prize organ meats for their ability to build reserves of strength and vitality.  Organ meats such as liver have disappeared from our tables, but even our grandparents remember the day when liver was served once a week.  Be sure to buy organic liver – although organic liver may contain some toxic substances, its nutritive value outweighs the danger of toxins it contains.  Fallon advises for those who feel squeamish about organ meats, to begin with sweetbreads (part of the thymus gland of the young calf) which do not have a strong flavour, then graduate to liver, kidney, heart and brains.  They can also be chopped finely and added to any meat dish, or grated into brown rice when cooking to feed your family without their knowledge.


Fish, Fallon says, is the health food par excellence, as noted by Price in his studies.  Consumption of fish promotes excellent growth and bone structure, protects from degenerative diseases, and reduces coronary heart disease.  All ocean fish are excellent sources fat-soluble vitamins and of macro and trace minerals – our soils may be depleted but every one we need exists in the ocean.  Mackerel, anchovies and herring are particularly rich in mineral nutrients.  Deep-sea oily fish such as salmon, tuna and swordfish are good sources of omega-3. Beware of fish from the shoreline waters near industrial areas or from contaminated freshwaters, especially catfish, carp and other scavengers, as they can contain mercury, and for the same reason avoid an overconsumption of shellfish. Shellfish such as scallops, clams, mussels, oysters, shrimp, crab and lobster are highly prized by traditional people.  They are rich in fat-soluble nutrients and should be eaten very fresh and in season.  You needn’t worry about mercury levels in deep-sea fish such as salmon, tuna and swordfish, or from sole or flounder that come from relatively clean waters.  Avoid farm-raised fish as they are often given inappropriate feed such as soy pellets containing pesticide residues.

Raw fish should be marinated in an acid solution of lime juice, lemon juice or whey to kill off parasites and pathogens, and also pre-digests the fish to make it easier for us to digest.  Fallon does not recommend sushi, which contains raw fish that hasn’t been marinated.  Be sure to include fish eggs in your diet, which are highly nourishing.


Eggs have been shunned by health advocates for decades as being high in cholesterol, wrongly throught to cause coronary heart desease.  Eggs from healthy free-range chickens are rich in just about every nutrient we have yet discovered, especially fat-soluble vitamins A and D.  Eggs from chickens that are fed flax seeds, fish meal, or pasture-fed so they can eat bugs and worms, provide the best nutrients.  In particular they contain an even ration of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids (necessary for the development of the brain), whereas in chickens fed only grains the omega-6 content can be as much as 19 times greater than the all important omega-3.  There has been some publicity about salmonella infections from eggs – the blame for this problem lies with crowded production methods that require extensive use of antibiotics in feed.  Eggs from pasture-fed hens pose no danger provided they have been properly refrigerated.  It’s fine to eat raw yolks of fresh eggs, but raw egg whites should be consumed only on occasion.  Raw egg whites contain a substance called avidin, which interferes with the absoption of biotin, a B vitamin; they also contain trypsin inhibitors, which interfere with protein digestion.  These antinutrients are neutralised by light cooking.


Scientific evidence against sugar has been mounting for decades.  Research has showed that increased sugar consumption can lead to cancer, heart disease, hyperactivity, anorexia, eating disorders, an increase in blood insulin levels, hyperactivity, behavior problems, lack of concentration and violent tendenceis.  Research indicates that it is fructose, not glucose, which is most harmful, especially for children.  Sugar consumption is the cause of bone loss and dental decay.  Tooth decay and bone loss occur when the precise ratio of calcium to phosphorus in the blood varies from the normal ratio.  Dr Melvin Page, a dentist, demonstrated in numerous studies that sugar consumption causes phosphorus levels to drop and calcium to rise.  The calcium rises because it is pulled from the teeth and bones.  The drop in phosphorus hinders the absorption of this calcium, making it unusable and therefore toxic.  Thus sugar consumption causes tooth decay not because it promotes bacterial growth in the mouth, as most dentists believe, but because it alters the internal body chemistry.  Sweet foods from which sugar is extraced, such as sugar beet, sugar cane and corn, are particularly high in nutrients such as B vitamins, magnesium and chromium.  All of these seem to play an important role in the blood sugar mechanism.  Refined sugar is stripped of these nutrients, while concentrating the sugar, thus allowing us to fulfill our body’s energy requirements without obtaining the nutrients needed for bodybuilding, digestion and repair. Refined sugar also plays havoc with intestinal flora, fostering overgrowth of candida albicans and other fungi.  Avoid all refined sugars including so-called raw sugar and brown sugar, corn syrum, fructose and large amounts of fruit jucie.  Eat only unrefined sweeteners such as raw honey, rapadura sugar (dried sugar cane juice), maple syrup and dates.  Moderate use of natural sweeteners is found in many traditional societies so satisfy your sweet tooth with fully ripened fruit in season and limited amounts of unrefined sweeteners.


It is difficult to think of a popular beverage that is healthy – tea, coffee, soft drinks, alcoholic drinks and even fruit juice should all be avoided because they contain caffeine, concentrated sugars or large amounts of alcohol.  A survey of popular ethnic beverages will show that the fermentation of grains and fruits to make refreshing and health-promoting drinks is almost universal.  Fermented tea is found throughout Asia and Europe, munkoyo is a beer of Zambia with less than 0.5% alcohol, kaffir beer, a thick millet brew is the national drink of blacks in South Africa, kvass is the national Russian drink, Middle Europeans drink kiesel, Mexicans drink pulque made of cactus juice and palm wine, and so on.  Fallon includes recipes for several fermented beverages that include a small amount of homemade whey and a little sea salt, which encourage the proliferation of beneficial bacteria.  Whey has been used since ancient times as a medicinal aid, and is very nourishing.  Throughout the world these lactic-acid drinks have been valued for medicinal qualities, including the ability to relieve intestinal problems and constipation, promote lactation, strengthen the sick and promote overall well-being and stamina.  These drinks were considered superior to plain water, which may be poorly absorbed by the body.  Modern research has discovered that liquids containing dilute sugars and electrolytes of minerals (mineral ions) are absorbed faster and retained longer than plain water.  This research is used to promote commercial sports drinks that are merely high-sugar concoctions containing small amounts of electrolytes.  But natural lactic-acid fermented drinks contain numerous valuable minerals in ionised form, and a small amount of sugar, along with lactic acid and beneficial lactobacilli, all of which promote good health in many ways, while at the same time reducing the sensation of thirst.    Soft-drinks, alcoholic beverages and even plain water are poor substitutes for these health-promoting beverages.  Taken with meals they promote absorbtion of vitamins and minerals in the food, and taken after physical labour they replace lost mineral ions.  Fallon offers the theory that the craving for alcohol, as well as the craving for soft drinks, stems from an ancient collective memory of the kind of lacto-fermented beverages still found in traditional societies.


3 large organic beetroot, peeled and diced, ¼ cup whey or ¼ cup of a previous batch of kvass, 1 tsp salt.  Place ingredients into a 2 litre jar or jug, fill with water, cover, and leave for two days.  Strain and place in the fridge.  You can use the beets and a little of the liquid for another batch, which will be weaker, then discard the beets and start again.  You can make whey by placing a clean tea towel in a cup and adding a generous scoop of yoghurt.  Lift the tea towel slightly, and the whey will drip through.

Sally Fallon says kvass is a Russian national drink which contains less than 1% alcohol and is used to treat the sick. “It’s better to put your money into whole foods than vitamins…  Lacto-fermented beet kvass contains a large array of nutrients in easily assimilated form and is simple and inexpensive to make.”  Schoneck’s book Des Crudites Toute L’Anee: “Of particular value are lacto-fermented beets, which have a very favourable effect on disturbed cellular function.  Many scientific studies have deomnstrated that beets have a regenerating effect on the body.”  Kyivska’s book Ukranian Dishes: “No Ukranian home was ever without its beet kvass.  The kvass was always handy and ready when a pleasing sour flavour had to be added to soups and vinaigrettes.”


Kombucha is made by fermenting a mixture of water, organic black tea, white sugar and kombucha “mushroom” for several days or weeks.

It may seem ironic to recommend a drink which is made with black tea and white sugar, after warning against these substances.  However, the kombucha “mushroom” (actually a colony of yeast and bacteria) acts on the sugar and tea to produce not only acetic and lactic acid, but also small amounts of a potent detoxifying substance, glucuronic acid.  Normally this acid is produced by the liver and is used to neutralise toxins in the body – both naturally occuring toxins and toxins that have been ingested.  However, when liver function becomes overloaded, certainly the case with most of us today, additional glucuronic acid taken in the form of kombucha is said to be a powerful aid to the body’s natural cleansing process, a boost to the immune system, and a proven prophylactic against cancer and other degenerative diseases.  The Soviet experience is part of the large body of documentary evidence that the beverage made from kombucha fermentation of tea and sugar, is, indeed, a dramatic immune system booster and body detoxifier.  In her limited-time and budget section, Fallon recommends making Kombucha tea – after purchasing the mushroom (which is inexpensive – search on Google), batch after batch can be made at very little cost.  The Kombucha can be made with rapadura sugar, but the largest amount of glucuronic acid occurs with white sugar and black tea.  Always use organic tea as non-organic tea is high in flouride.  Flouride is an enzyme-inhibitor that contributes to bone loss, bone deformities, cancer and a host of other illnesses.  It offers little real protection against tooth decay.[1]

General Tips

  • If you are pressed for time, aim to find one four to five hour block of time each week to dedicate to food preparation – if you can’t find this you would be wise to re-evaluate your priorities.  Use the time to shop, put up a batch of vegetable ferments, put on a stock, bake some biscuits or muffins, and start a beverage.
  • When preparing a meal, think ahead to the next two meals and soak any grains required for them – the secret is in good planning rather than hours in the kitchen.
  • Always buy real butter, and use this or lard for fat.
  • Buy only unrefind sea salt, preferably celtic sea salt.
  • Make stock at least once a week – often fish carcasses can be obtained for free.  Use congealed fat from stocks instead of oil when cooking. Make soups part of your repertoire, using this stock.  Also cook brown rice and other grains in stock, and make them every week too.
  • Don’t buy boxed cereals – instead use organic oats and soak them overnight to make a porridge for breakfast.
  • Make your own salad dressings – with practice it takes no more than a minute to create a delicious dressing.
  • Instead of taking vitamins, drink beetroot kvass.  Consider a daily teaspoon of cod liver oil, and of Azomite powder.
  • If you can’t afford caviar, buy fish roe in the spring, use it to make fish cakes and store in the freezer to use throughout the year.
  • Don’t forget to eat liver occasionally – it’s worth its weight in gold, nutritionally speaking.
  • Once a week bake a batch of healthy biscuits for your children’s lunches.
  • Make kombucha tea – it’s inexpensive and a powerful booster for the immune system.
  • If your budget is limited, cut out junk food, prepared biscuits and cakes, soft drinks, frozen foods, fast foods etc, and use the savings to buy good quality butter, eggs and dairy products.  Buy organic whole grains in bulk and store them in covered plastic buckets, available from paint shops.  Above all, buy good qualiy fats.


Sally Fallon’s Guide To Food Selection

Nourishing Traditional Foods

Fallon recommends we eat a varied diet of the following foods:

  • Proteins: Fresh pasture-raised meat, organ meat from pastured animals, seafood of all types from deep sea waters, fresh shellfish in season, fish eggs, fresh eggs from pastured poultry, organic fermented soy products in small amounts.
  • Fats: Fresh butter and cream from pasture-fed cows, preferably raw and cultured, lard and fat from beef, lamb, geese and ducks that have been pastured; extra virgin olive oil; unrefined flax seed oil in small amounts, coconut oil and palm oil.
  • Dairy: Raw whole milk and cultured dairy products from traditional breeds of pasture-fed cows and goats.
  • Carbohydrates: Organic whole grain products that have been soaked, sprouted or fermented; soaked fermented legumes; sprouted or soaked nuts and seeds; fresh fruit and vegetables both raw and cooked; fermented vegetables.
  • Beverages: Filtered high-mineral water, lacto-fermented drinks made from grain or fruit, meat stocks and vegetable broths.
  • Condiments: Unrefined sea salt; raw vinegar; spices in moderation; fresh herbs; naturally fermented soy sauce and fish sauce.

Compromise Foods

Fallon says that healthy people can eat the following foods in moderate amounts:

  • Proteins: Pork, fish from shallow waters, commercially raised meat, BBQ’d or smoked meats, traditionally made additive-free sausage, additive-free bacon, battery eggs, tofu in very small amounts.
  • Fats: Unrefined peanut and sesame oils.
  • Dairy: Raw whole uncultured milk from conventional dairies, pasteurised cultured milk products, pasteurised cheeses, melted cheeses.
  • Carbohydrates: Whole grains not treated for phytates such as quick-rise breads and pasta, unbleached white flour, canned legumes, thin-skinned fruits and vegetables imported from long distances, canned tomato products, well-cooked unsprayed seaweeds, natural sweeteners such as honey, maple syrup, rapadura and date sugar.
  • Beverages: Wine or unpasteurised beer in moderation with meals, diluted fruit juices, herbal teas.
  • Condiments: Commercial salt, pasteurised vinegar, canned condiments without MSG.

Modern “Foods”

Fallon advises that these foods are best avoided by everyone:

  • Proteins: Processed meats containing additives and preservatives such as lunch meat, salami and bacon; hydrolised protein and protein isolates; soy milk.
  • Fats: All highly processed vegetable oils, margarine, tub spreads, vegetable shortenings, fat substitutes, foods fried in vegetable oils, lowfat products.
  • Dairy: Pasteurised homogenised commercial milk; ultrapasteurised cream and milk; processed cheeses, reduced-fat dairy products.
  • Carbohydrates: Bleached and “fortified” white flour products, commercial dry cereals, granolas, refined sugar in all forms, irradiated and genetically modified grains fruits and vegetables; most canned products; chocolate.
  • Beverages: Soft drinks; distilled or pasteurised alcohol products; full strength fruit juices; commercial rice and oat milks, coffee, tea and cocoa.
  • Condiments: Commercial baking powder; MSG; artificial flavours, additives and colours; chemically produced food preservatives; aspartame.

Health Recovery

In her book Eat Fat Lose Fat, Mary Enig and Sally Fallon include a chapter on Health Recovery, with a recommended diet to assist recovery from numerous conditions including:

  • adrenal weakness: reduced libido, low energy, fatigue, chronic fatigue, stress
  • allergies and hay fever, asthma,
  • constipation, diabetes and insulin resistance,
  • anxiety, depression, mood swings,  food cravings, fungal infections, candida, gallbladder ailments,
  • hormonal imbalances, hypoglycemia, immune problems and autoimmune disorders,
  • irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, and Crohn’s disease,
  • skin problems – eczema, dry skin, wrinkles, scaly patches, hair loss, thyroid imbalances,
  • colds and flu, viral infections – Epstein-Barr, Herpes, and HIV/AIDS

For each condition, Fallon gives specific advice, but following her diet should dramatically improve or completely cure all the above conditions. The emphasis is on consuming nutrient dense foods, and consuming butter, fermented beverages and condiments which will assist with the absorbtion of these nutrients.  In societies where people eat traditional foods, they are far healthier than us, and their everyday diets contain many times the recommended daily requirements of various vitamins and minerals.  In times of illness, stress, recovery, pre-conception, pregnancy and lactation, traditional people usually added in special foods, in particular liver, raw milk, raw meat and fish, and bone broths, to provide extra nutrition.  Fallon’s diet is a modern-day adaptation of the methods used by traditional people.

I have been following her recommendations for some time now and I have found I feel satisfied, my health has dramatically improved, my skin is blemish-free and lines have vanished, my period pain has just about disappeared, and I have more energy and clarity of mind.

Key features of the Health Recovery Diet

Consume lots of coconut oil and other coconut products.  Fallon advises 1-2 tablespoons of the oil dissolved in warm water before each meal, three times a day.  If you have trouble digesting this add in ½ tsp raw apple cider vinegar or swedish bitters to support your liver.  The first time I tried this I felt nauseous afterwards, but when I added in the vinegar it went down fine.  Coconut oil is the fat most easily converted to energy and is not stored as fat in your body.  It helps you feel satiated until your next meal, thus relieving problems related to hypoglycemia, mood swings and depression which can result from low blood sugar. Flu is caused by a virus with a lipid coating, which coconut oil causes to disintegrate, while beneficial bacteria have a sugar coating – coconut oil encourages the growth of this type of bacteria.  Coconut oil is also antifungal, ideal for fighting candida.  Since I can’t bear to do the coconut oil in warm water more than once or twice a day, I’ve been making treats with coconut oil to eat instead.  I melt coconut oil then add carob powder and vanilla essence (or a drop of peppermint oil), or I add dessicated coconut with some sugar and one of: vanilla essence or lemon juice or carob powder.  Pour into trays or chocolate moulds and refrigerate.  If using a tray, cut into slices when set.  Store in the fridge, and grab a couple when you go out for emergency snacks. Coconut Oil is available cheaply in Melbourne from Naturally On High, in High St Thornbury – take your own container and ask them to fill it.

Supplementing with cod liver oil to provide vitamins A and D.  Fallon advises that for health recovery you should take enough cod liver oil to provide 20,000 IU of vitamin A daily.  Some cod liver oil supplements contain very small amounts, but from most organic shops you can buy Melrose brand which is quite acceptable.  High vitamin cod liver oil is available from Green Pastures – it’s quite expensive but you can take a lot less of it.  If possible, buy the fermented version.

Half a teaspoon of high vitamin butter oil daily.  (Available from Green Pastures.  Or buy raw organic butter from cows eating rapidly growing grass in spring, and store it for use during the year.)  Take the butter oil with the cod liver oil as it causes the cod liver oil to be absorbed far better, and the benefits of the oil are greatly magnified.

Consume biodynamic liver daily.  Fallon advises 4 capsules of desiccated liver (available from Green Pastures).  This is equivalent to about 2 tsp of dry liver, probably about 4 tsp of fresh liver.  Instead of capsules you could eat this as a pate, or freeze for 2 weeks to kill pathogens and then chop into small pieces to swallow down raw (especially beneficial).

¼ tsp acerola powder for increased vitamin C – I don’t take this as I prefer to get my vitamin C from fruit and kimchi.

Homemade bone broths.  Fallon’s diet includes 1-2 serves of broth or soup each day.  You can sip miso soup from a cup like a drink, or have a small bowl of soup as a snack.  The gelatin and minerals in the broth are key to relieving fatigue, asthma, allergies, diabetes and digestive disorders.

Lacto-fermented beverages.  Half to one cup of these three times a day, to provide nutrients and enzymes which help you absorb the nutrients from your food.  These are key to relieving digestive disorders, kidney problems, skin disorders, allergies, asthma, and alleviating food and allergy cravings.  Two of the most beneficial are beet kvass (half a cup morning and night), and kombucha (half to one cup daily).

Raw animal foods.  Fallon advises a raw milk drink every day – her tonic is made of an egg yolk (the whites are best not eaten raw as they contain a substance that can prevent us from aborbing nutriets), a teaspoon of molasses and the rest of milk.  I can’t stand the molasses but I often have raw buttermilk smoothies, or I heat raw milk to body temperature and stir in a tiny bit of maple syrup on honey.  If you can’t drink raw milk have a cocnut milk tonic instead (mix a can of coconut milk with a teaspoon of dolomite powder, 2 tbsp maple syrup, 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1¾ cups water).  Eat raw fish and or raw meat a few times a week if possible. Also include fish eggs regularly.

Soaked wholegrains, legumes, nuts and seeds.  Unsoaked, these contain phytates that can irritate our digestive tracts, preventing the absorbtion of nutrients.  Eat sourdough bread, and soak porridge and other grain products in warm water and a little whey for 12-24 hours before cooking.

Eliminate refined sugar, refined grains (white flour, white rice), vegetable oils, trans-fats (in most processed packaged foods and in fish and chips), puffed grains (eg rice cakes, corn thins, cereals made with puffed grains) and soy products (soy should only be consumed thoroughly fermented), and any sauces and processed foods that may contain msg (very small amounts of msg may be included without being labelled).  You’ll notice after including daily all the above foods, the presence of non-nutritious foods is largely crowded out, making it easier to eliminate processed foods.

A sample meal plan for a day:

(This is how I have interpreted the recommendations and adapted them for me – Fallon’s meal plans are different.)

Upon rising

half to one glass of beet kvass with 20,000 IU of cod liver oil, ½ tsp butter oil.


1 tbsp coconut oil dissolved in warm water with ½ tsp raw apple cider vinegar added.

Soaked oat porridge with raw butter and maple syrup or honey.

OR soaked pancakes with fruit, yoghurt, and “coconutty butter” (Ground crispy nuts mixed with coconut oil.)

OR eggs on wholegrain sourdough toast with raw butter.


Cup of miso soup or other broth, and a piece of fruit. A homemade sweet biscuit if I’m still hungry.


Wholegrain sourdough toast spread with pate, and topped with tomato and kimchi.

Salad with home-made dressing

Coconut slice.


Raw milk drink or coconut milk tonic.  If I didn’t have pate at lunchtime I have some now, on crackers or toast.


Glass of kombucha – I like this before dinner when others are going for wine.

Raw meat or fish appetiser, OR bowl of soup as an appetiser.

Main meal – whatever my partner cooks, including fresh vegies, soaked grains, salads, etc.

A coconut carob treat (warm coconut oil, stir in carob powder and vanilla, pour into chocolate moulds, refrigerate.)


Half a glass of kvass.  A bowl of homemade icecream with fruit if I want dessert.

[1] Yiamouyiannis, J, Flouride, The Aging Factor, 1986, Health Action Press, Delaware, OH.

Food flower poster to replace the food pyramid

Food flower poster to replace the food pyramid

Forget the food pyramid!  It was developed by the agricultural industry, not by nutritionists.  Print out the above poster instead, which shows traditional foods and how to eat them so you feel really satisfied and have great health.

Since I started eating this way, so many of my health problems have fallen away: period pain has disappeared, skin wrinkles suddenly smoothed out, warts disappeared, tinea (foot fungus) has ended after fifteen years, and generally when I get a cold or the flu I can fight it off quickly and easily, unlike before.

I made this poster because it’s a simple, visual way to show kids how to choose good foods to eat.  But I realised it’s probably a good guide for adults or anyone just getting started on traditional foods.

The poster above is high resolution, ready for you to print out A4 size, cut it along the “bleed lines”, laminate and stick to your fridge.  Click on it to open the full size image, and save it to your harddrive.  Enjoy!

Raw garlic to cure colds and flu

Since I discovered raw garlic to fend off colds and flu I’ve had way fewer illnesses than before.  A few times I’ve felt a really big nasty coming on real fast, and thanks to a few cloves of garlic I actually nipped them in the bud.  Eating raw garlic has also prevented my sore throats from getting to that absolutely terrible I-can’t-bear-to-swallow-or-be-alive stage which I used to go through a few times a year, and it’s also fended off that horrible nose-and-eyes-drip-constantly mid-part of a cold.  It doesn’t always work – if your immune system is trashed, see traditional foods for how to build it up again.

So, here’s how I take it.  It’s got to be fresh raw garlic – I don’t buy capsules or powder or anything like that.  If I chew it, I’ll have garlic breath for hours with even a single chomp of my front teeth, and it seems to cause stomach upsets sometimes too – go figure.  I get small cloves and swallow them whole, if possible, but crush them a bit first so they don’t come out completely undigested. I make sure the cloves are very small so there’s no risk of choking.  I usually chew up a decent mouthful of food, then just before I swallow, I pop the garlic in the back of my mouth and swallow it down with the rest of the food.  If I can’t get small enough cloves, I chop the garlic into pieces and swallow them down with water, without chewing.  If I do it this way, I always eat something first to line my stomach so it’s not too full on.

To make it more appealing for my child, I mix finely chopped pieces with honey before swallowing down with water.  If my stomach is sensitive, I take the garlic with food, and avoid chewing it. I think bigger pieces seem to cause less stomach upset than smaller pieces.

I’ve heard some people take a clove of raw garlic once a week as a preventative measure.  If I feel a real nasty coming on, I try to take three cloves of garlic between the first symptoms and when I go to bed for the night.  In the morning, I take another one, and by mid afternoon I usually feel heaps better.  I continue with one or two a day till my bug has gone.  Sometimes I feel the beginnings of a mild sore throat or a tingle in my nose, and in that case, often a single clove of garlic is enough to have me better by morning.

While I don’t get garlic breath from taking garlic in this way, twenty-four hours later, if I fart, it’ll stink like garlic, and if I’ve had a few doses, even my wee and sweat smell like garlic.  This is kinda gross, but I believe it’s far less gross than oozing snot for the next two weeks.

I’ve noticed best results if I rest at the same time.  Eating garlic and resting in the face of a nasty cold seems to throw it off without it even reaching its peak.  If it’s a mild one sometimes I can cheat and keep working full tilt, thanks to the garlic, but it sometimes comes back after a few days.  So I tuck myself into bed with a book for the afternoon or turn off the light earlier at night.  Goodluck!

PS if you found this interesting, you might be interested in other posts on this blog.  Check out the Guide To This Blog to find the most helpful posts.

PPS I am not a doctor, and the tips on my blog are simply things that have worked for me – they cannot be taken in place of medical advice.

Should we eat 100% raw food?

A friend suggested that since I wanted to improve my health, I should try eating only raw food.  When she switched to a raw diet she said she felt fantastic, had so much energy…

During my eleven days of eating only raw food, I was wondering how long it might take until I started feeling great. It certainly hadn’t happened in the first three days. I looked on many, many sites for their “proof” that it works. Most sites cited a Swiss guy called Kouchakoff, a researcher who discovered, in the 1930s, that when we eat cooked food, a reaction occurs in our blood – the same reaction that occurs when our immune system mounts a reaction to a foreign invader. He noticed that when we eat raw food, no reaction occurred. Is it possible that we are not “meant” to eat cooked food? Could it be that our immune systems are exhausted from the constant “management” of cooked food, leaving us vulnerable to illnesses? The raw food sites concluded a definite YES to both these questions, and advocate a 100% raw vegan diet. I wanted to find Kouchakoff’s actual published paper, because I wanted to know whether the blood reaction, which he refers to as “leukocytosis”, occurs when we eat animal products such as honey, dairy, eggs and raw fish. Do we really have to be “raw vegan” or is that just an overlay added by these raw foodists who themselves are vegan?

I finally found and read his paper, titled “The Influence Of Cooking On The Blood Formula Of Man”. I was pleased to see that he specifically mentioned the animal products I was interested in and said that eating them raw did not cause leukocytosis. What surprised me, however, was his statement, “It has been proved possible to take, without altering the blood formula, every kind of foodstuff which is habitually eaten now, but only by following this rule, viz: that it must be taken along with raw products, according to a definite formula.” To my disappointment, the details he gave about the formula weren’t comprehensive enough for me to be able to work out how to follow it. Mulling on this overnight, I realised I felt a bit cheated. The raw foodists are citing this paper as their primary source of scientific proof that we should eat 100% raw food, while Kouchakoff himself only recommends that to avoid leukocytosis we eat the right raw foods with our cooked food . The other thing is that Kouchakoff says the “critical temperature” at which a food begins to cause leukocytosis is individual to each food, but starts at around 87 degrees celsius. The raw food community advocates heating nothing above 38 degrees (or thereabouts). The more I thought about it, the more I thought the raw food community’s claims could not possibly be considered “corroborated” by this paper.

I started searching again – was this paper only a portion of their scientific “proof”? Another name came up – Dr Howell. I had a look into his research and found that the temperature guide used by the raw food community must have been taken from him – he discovered that food heated above approx 40 degrees lost their living enzymes. But I also took his research with a grain of salt – firstly because he has created an enzyme supplement which everyone should take, so I felt his research was likely to be self-serving, (and I am deeply suspicious of supplements) and also because I couldn’t find any direct connection that he had established between the life of the enzymes in food, and our health and wellbeing, should we ingest only raw food. He suggested that if we eat cooked food, we should eat raw food first so that the enzymes will help us digest the cooked food. Again – hardly evidence that we should aim for 100% raw.

The raw food sites, along with citing Dr Howell and Kouchakoff, said that the proof was in the eating – go raw for 3 days, ten days, a month (each one has its own recommendation) and see for yourself how much better you feel. Well I didn’t feel better at all. None of these “proofs” hold up for me.

This post is really a continuation of my previous post – so if you haven’t already, read that first.

After mulling overnight on the massive discrepency between the raw food community’s “proof” and the actual paper it was based on, I thought, surely I’m not the only person who has noticed this. I searched more, and came up with an article by Jean-Louis Tu, a raw-foodist who had not only noticed the same thing, but had done a whole heap of further research into it. The stuff he said resonated with me, and matched my own findings. His findings included:

* That there are no traditional raw food cultures anywhere in the world. Even those cited by the raw food community only eat some raw food, not even a high proportion (eg the Eskimos). There were no tropical cultures where people lived almost entirely on fruit. In fact a danger with the raw food diet, he says, is an excessively high sugar load from eating so much fruit. The many traditional cultures who experience wonderful health in that they are not prone to degenerative diseases are still vulnerable to infectious diseases. They ate cooked food and they didn’t get cancer etc.  The use of fire, controlled by humans, seems to have begun at least 400,000 years ago, and for at least the last 40,000 years cooking has been widespread practice.

* There is a group of people who believe that if you eliminate all cooked food from your diet, you can eat purely from instinct – but if you have only a tiny bit of cooked food it throws you out of balance and makes you want more cooked food. The author provides two points of evidence against this philosophy – one that most “Instinctos” find they naturally eat more fruit and neglect their greens, so they have a number of dietry rules to ensure their diet is balanced. He also cites studies done on babies who are offered a range of raw and cooked food, and allowed to self-select. All babies chose for themselves a balanced diet even if it wasn’t balanced over a singe day. And they chose some cooked food as well as raw.

* He attributes the fantastic results many people experience after going raw as being due to a greater purity of diet, rather than the fact that the food isn’t cooked. For example:

  • The raw diet is relatively high in unsaturated fats compared to saturated fats, and generally eliminates all trans-fatty acids, which interfere with omega-3 absorption and is considered the most disease-promoting of all fats.
  • Since a raw diet consists predominantly of fruit and vegetables, eating this way fills your body with phytochemicals, antioxidants, fibre, and other vitamins and minerals which promote good health.
  • People on a raw diet generally eliminate all processed foods and associated refined products and chemical additives, which are known to be harmful to our bodies.  Also their presence in a diet crowds out more nutritious foods.
  • They also tend to eliminate potential “problem foods” – for example, since raw food is often equated with vegan, many people give up dairy and so benefit if they had a dairy-intolerance. Since grain is eliminated, anyone with gluten or other grain-related intolerance benefits.
  • Since 100% raw is so very difficult to maintain, in our culture, it needs a lot of focus and dedication. People who focus and dedicate themselves to this aspect of their health usually also make an effort, at the same time, to sleep well, exercise well, involve themselves in relaxation exercises like meditation and yoga. All these can contribute to the feeling of well-being.

* Some people experience a revolt after eating cooked food, having eating only raw for a long time, and interpret this as evidence that cooked food is a form of poison. The author suggests this may actually occur because the digestive system is weakened, especially after such a high consumption of fruit for a long time.

* Raw food diets, while they can have immense benefits in the beginning, for reasons outlined above, rarely work in the long term.  Ronald Cridland, a doctor with long experience of caring for patients on raw food diets reports about people on a high-fruit diet that “many feel quite well for about two years…but after that, they begin to experience low energy, immune problems, skin problems and fatigue.  Many of these patients are sleep deprived.”  Tu comments that the decline can be gradual and occur unnoticed, and by that time raw-foodists are generally so invested in their raw food lifestyle and doctrine that they don’t want to notice it.

* Symptoms and conditions that would otherwise be referred to as “illnesses” are often relabelled “detox” when on a raw-food diet, and raw-foodists who haven’t been “sick” for years still report frequent “detox episodes”. The point is to be skeptical when assessing how well you are doing on a raw diet.  Signs of failure to thrive include diarrhoea, absent or erratic menstruation, insomnia or unrestful sleep, low energy, lack of normal motivation, being hungry all the time, losing too much weight, loss of sex drive, more frequent colds, reactive nervous system, and in some extreme cases, rickets, congestive heart failure due to inadequte protein, and, more commonly vitamin B-12 deficiency. Even long termers find it very difficult to adhere to a 100% raw diet and so regularly backslide. Viktoras Kulvinskasof Hippocrates Institute – (which runs living-food health retreats) would give health talks and lifestyle consultations about the benefits of raw food, but reports privately battling bulimia – vomiting up raw food and binging on junk food.  He was so entrenched in the raw food business he couldn’t publicly admit his “failings” for a long time.

* The nutrient profile of a vegetarian raw-food diet that predominates in fruits is much improved by including some cooked vegetables and/or starches.  Beta-carotene in carrots, for example, is poorly absorbed when eaten raw, but when steamed absorption is improved.  Cooking fruit and vegetables reduces their vitamin content by about 10-25% (depending on the item and the cooking method) but it can also increase the bioavailability of some nutrients, so the nutrient-loss may be balanced.  Mineral loss does not appear to occur with cooking.

Please forgive me if I have made errors in summarising some of his findings – if you are interested in this topic, read his article for yourself.  Much of what I have written above is summarised from this page of the article.

Anyway, after reading this I am convinced that I don’t want to aim for 100% raw, that cooked food is NOT harmful to my health, and that to eliminate it altogether could be dangerous for my health. I do, however, plan to continue incorporating, say, 60% of raw food into my diet, without being a fascist about it.

Since coming to these conclusions, I have been back on the raw food forums, reading, and am rather shocked by the people who report “detox” symptoms such as their hair falling out, insomnia, cessation of their periods, and even a repulsion for raw foods. When they ask for help, others confess they too have experienced these symptoms after switching to a raw diet, but no-one, NO-ONE, suggests they should eat enough cooked food to eliminate these signs of ill-health, or that they should listen to their body and eat as much healthy cooked food as they feel is appropriate. One woman on a raw food forum described her pregnancy, saying that she went into “detox” if she ate more than 60% raw, and since she was concerned about how the detox might affect her baby, she persisted with 40% cooked food until after the birth. Sounds sensible to me, though I suspect it was not so much detox as her body letting her know what it needs.

I thought I’d finished my research into raw food, but something was still nagging at me. Dr Edward Howell claims that we need the enzymes in raw food to be able to digest properly. Is this true? I was doing a google search, thinking I should have a really good read, work out what assumptions he’s made and what studies he’s actually done, and then I found that good ol’ Jean-Louis Tu has done it for me. Here’s a brief summary of what he’s got to say on the topic. Please note that I haven’t cross-referenced his work this time to check it’s true – I feel a fairly high regard for his approach given the similarity of our independent appraisals of Kouchakoff’s studies.

Interestingly, the studies that Howell himself have cited are old – from the 1920s and 30s – there doesn’t seem to be any newer research validating his claims. His claims are, as far as I can discern, that in our lifetime we can only manufacture so many enzymes in our body for digesting food, and that we gradually deplete them as we use them up on the digestion of cooked food. If we eat raw food, Howell says, we digest it with its own enzymes instead of using up our limited supply – and the result is less ageing, less illness, and greater wellbeing. Howell doesn’t appear to be a scientific researcher – in fact much of his proof is claimed to be in a book which no-one has been able to find. He makes the assumption at the beginning of his book that enzymes contain the “life force”, and doesn’t even attempt any proof in this regard.

The main point that Jean-Louis Tu made, which struck me, is that researchers Tortora and Anagostakos [1981] found that when food reaches our stomach, the majority of enzymes in the food are destroyed. The food then passes into our small intestine, and it is here that 90% of the nutrients are absorbed, with the help of bile and pancreatic enzymes. So, it seems the enzymes present in the food we eat has a fairly small impact on its digestion.

Ok, now I think I’m finished on the topic of raw food. Please don’t interpret my comments on this blog to mean that I am against the eating of raw food – not at all. I believe it’s good for all of us to eat plenty of raw fruit and vegies, and nuts and seeds are probably far better for us in their raw state. I just don’t believe we should strive for 100% raw.

Since completing this research into raw food, I have finally found a diet that DOES improve my health. See Traditional Foods for a great, well balanced, satisfying diet that has resulted in fantastic all-round health for me.

Pink Champagne recipe

If you’d like to try your hand at homemade alcohol, this recipe for pink champagne is pretty easy:

Pick 800g rhubarb, wash and chop (I put mine through the thermomix, resulting in this fairly unappealing stringy mash, but never mind).

Put 5 litres of water in a pot, add the rhubarb, a sliced lemon, 300g honey and 1/4 cup of raw apple cider vinegar.  Here’s my pot:

Pink Champagne recipe


Put the lid on the pot and and leave it for 24 hours.  Then strain the liquid into a fermenting vessel, and top with an airlock:

Pink Champagne recipe 2


If you don’t have a fermenting vessel or airlock, just put it into plastic bottles, and put a balloon over the entrance.  This is so that gas can escape as the little micro-organisms do their fermenty thing, but no new air can go in, which would introduce undesirable micro-organisms and cause your champagne to turn into vinegar.  Every now and then you’ll need to “burp” the ballons, because otherwise they’ll expand to the point that eventually they’ll pop off.  Don’t even think about putting a lid on the bottle – this is asking for an explosion, and I speak from personal experience.

Anyway, once you’ve airlocked/ballooned your brew, leave it for two weeks, then drink it.  It should be fizzy and mildly alcoholic, and if nothing else, it should be delicious.